Strategic Marketing

The Future of Modern Medicare Marketing

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Take a short break from the hectic throes of Medicare AEP marketing, kick your feet up, breathe deeply and ponder with me, for a moment about what the future-state of Medicare marketing may be like.

It’s August of 20-something, and you’re a Medicare marketer. You are in the midst of a flurry of marketing activity aimed at completing your marketing materials for the next AEP submission and review by CMS.

Your team has made it through the winter months. You watched as the days on the January calendar passed by, as you and your team had just recovered from the previous AEP, while watching the disenrollment figures closely.

February brought on the post-AEP assessment, the post-mortem of what marketing went right and what went wrong during the previous AEP. The post-AEP assessment of previous years had been painful. However this is 20-something and this year, your team was working under a new philosophy of “Modern Medicare Marketing” and your results were the best-ever delivered to your organization.

March was a busy month, researching and assessing the market, the competitors, both old and new. And along with March came two Medicare conferences to choose from, but your budget was limited and you were only able to attend one.  You gleaned some insight and you learned some new tactics that were successful from several of the speakers and attendees.

April, May and June were planning and implementing this year’s AEP marketing.  From the strategic decisions made by your team to address the shortcomings of the previous year’s AEP performance, to your team’s ability to test given the limited budget you have been provided, to some “nice-to-have” marketing luxuries that are on your “wish-list,” you have decided what is possible and probable based on budget, resources and staff. In late June your team, and your agency set out to create the materials that have been planned to accomplish the strategic mission.

Throughout August and September the CMS approvals come back, and your team readies the marketing assault on the designated market area for implementation. Your warm-up direct mail is all queued up, the media has been planned for broadcast, cable, radio, and since it is 20-something, all digital channels are in play.

It’s October and the AEP moment of truth is upon you. Except, because this is 20-something, you have all of the modern marketing technologies that are available in 20-something at the ready. You walk into the “Marketing Operations” department to speak with the marketing technologists who are running the 6 areas of modern marketing technology.

·        Advertising and Promotion

·        Content and Experience

·        Social and Relationships

·        Commerce and Sales

·        Data

·        Management

These future technologies have enabled your team to deliver up marketing experiences that those who were marketing in 2017 have only have dreamed of.

A prospective member receives your warm-up direct mail piece in early October of 20-something. They are interested. They aim their phone at your direct mail piece and using an image recognition technology (not a QR code, but an app that recognizes the print piece itself) they are redirected to your website.

When that prospective member, let’s call her Mary, arrives at your website, your marketing tracking technology tags Mary with 2 identifications. Since Mary hasn’t registered yet, the anonymous identifications will track her movement and behavior as she navigates the site.

Mary is interested, however since she arrived at the website prior to October 7, there was no call-to-action to enroll. She ignored the other calls-to-action to download guides, but she did watch a video and looked at an info-graphic. She did not register to receive additional information.

Mary did receive touch 2 of the direct mail campaign, and it is now past October 7. Mary received a lot of other direct mail too.  She goes online to search for other solutions, and Mary is being retargeted by your marketing.  She sees one of your banner ads as she is on a network site, recognizes your brand from the DM piece and clicks on your banner. (Mary could have easily been exposed to your brand via digital video advertising, native advertising, social network advertising, or any other digital means.)

Mary arrives at your best-practice landing page and is asked to register.  Even though she is on a different browser, your technology knows that Mary is a previous anonymous visitor tagged by her tracking number and as soon as Mary registers, her digital history on your website is then transferred to her name and email address.  Mary is now re-marketable. Since you are using technology that can discover who Mary is by having Mary enter her first and last name and zip code, she doesn’t even have to enter her physical address or email address- your technology has the ability to discover it through her entry of name and zip code.

Marketing automation technology kicks in. You have developed a lead scoring matrix that scores Mary’s digital behavior, so every time Mary has looked at a particular marketing asset on your site, such as that video and the info-graphic that she viewed when she first visited your site as an anonymous user, her score increases.  Your lead scoring also takes into account the recency and frequency in which Mary has visited your site.  For simplicity, let’s say that Mary scored 5 points for the video, 5 points for the info-graphic and 10 points for coming back to the site within 10 days.  If you had set the criteria for a lead to be mature at 20 points, Mary would be passed over to sales to be contacted.

There are 3 stages of lead qualification- MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead,) SQL (Sales Qualified Lead,) and SAL (Sales Accepted Lead.) If the criteria had been set to 50 points, Mary would still need to score 30 more points to be a “Sales Accepted Lead” (SAL.) The scoring criteria has been previously set through a series of meetings with sales and has been optimized over time. Sales understands that NO LEAD will be passed to them until the lead achieves the prescribed score.

Let’s say that Mary is at 20 points and is not yet considered a Sales Accepted Lead.  Mary is then automatically placed into the Lead Nurture communications stream, which automatically delivers Mary predetermined communications through the marketing automation software.  If Mary responds to any of these communications, she is placed into a different “responder track” of more targeted and more aggressive calls to action.  The nurture track is not limited to email communications, there can be a DM touch, or a call center call touch, or several of each. It’s up to the marketer.

In the meantime, Mary is still being retargeted by banners on the network of websites where the media is placed.  Mary is still exposed to the cable and television commercials. Mary is still receiving DM pieces, and is exposed to print and other media that has been planned.

Mary enrolls, and is automatically removed from the acquisition marketing communications program, and is now placed in the automated member nurture program.

Or- Mary doesn’t enroll throughout AEP, however, Mary has been thoroughly exposed to the brand and may consider enrolling next year, and your organization has Mary on the radar ready to market to her in the future.

Would it surprise you to learn that this description of Modern Medicare Marketing isn’t a future state at all?

This is a current state.

Yes, all that has been described is not only possible, it is being done by the most forward thinking Medicare marketing organizations.

Imagine how it would be to have this in place at your organization.

Here’s a link to the “MarTech 5000” a super-info-graphic by Scott Brinker that details the brands of technology available to marketers segregated by these 6 categories:

  • Advertising and Promotion
  • Content and Experience
  • Social and Relationships
  • Commerce and Sales
  • Data
  •  Management

Medicare marketing and marketing technology are often disconnected subjects even if they shouldn’t be.

After all we are more than halfway through 2017, and as modern marketers we are all well ensconced in a technological avalanche of digital capabilities that is as new as the last 5 years.

Medicare marketers are laggards in the adoption and use of marketing technology.

Why?

Perhaps the cause of slow adoption of marketing technology by Medicare marketers is connected to the heavy reliance on direct mail as the workhorse channel. And it could also be the reluctance by Medicare marketers to deviate from the tried and true traditional channels of Medicare marketing such as direct mail, DRTV and event based marketing that has slowed innovation and adoption of modern marketing technology by the Medicare marketing industry.

B2B Marketers are more apt to be discussing marketing automation, lead scoring, the various levels of lead qualifications such as MQL (Marketing Qualified Leads) SQL (Sales Qualified Lead) and SAL (Sales Accepted Lead, while Medicare marketers would be quite happy to discuss any type of lead.

And, for Medicare marketers, any lead that comes into the house is rapidly transferred over to a sales channel, whether that channel is inside sales, the broker channel, or agents  of or for the company. This is quite different than best-practice B2C or B2B marketing which is now operated by a team of marketers in a function which is called marketing operations and which almost never turns a lead over until the lead is deemed mature and ready to be sold.

Let’s take a step back and look at the purpose of marketing in your Medicare insurance organization.

The #1 function or Medicare marketers is to generate leads for the Medicare insurance sales team. For those Medicare insurance plans that are launching, or do not currently have a well-known market presence, the work of creating awareness, and familiarity with the new to market brand is also a prime charge for the marketing department.

If you’d like to be the agent of change in your organization and have Modern Medicare Marketing in place for your next year’s AEP, I’d be happy to help.

Please contact me and let’s continue the conversation about Modern Medicare Marketing.

Growth Hacking B2B Marketing

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What marketing hacks can turn into growth for your organization?

What exactly is a marketing hack?

Well, according to Wikipedia, the definitive source for everything: ”Growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business. … Growth hackers are marketers, engineers and product managers that specifically focus on building and engaging the user base of a business.”

All B2B Marketing Is NOT The Same

SMB, Middle-Market & Enterprise B2B Marketing each demand their own specific strategies. And there are marketers who work in each of these areas that would love to take advantage of any kind of “hack” especially one that promises “growth.”

There are countless articles that have been written, are being written and will be written about growth hacking. After all, it is one of the shiny new objects of B2B marketing, as was “Account Based Marketing,” or “Social Selling” just a few years back. With anything that is seemingly new, and definitely popular, there is a lot of noise surrounding it.

The idea of experimentation or testing in marketing is certainly not new.  What is new, is the speed at which experimentation is taking place among those who are truly practicing “growth hacking.” Creating an MVP (minimal viable product) type of marketing, and sending it out into the world sometimes only half baked, has allowed marketers to better immediately understand the viability and success of the marketing strategy or tactic.

Tactical Marketing Tryouts

Many of the articles written deliver lists of great “growth marketing hacks” which are really nothing more than a laundry list of tactical ideas for marketers to consider and try out in a limited time frame. I guess that “Tactical Marketing Tryouts” could be classified as growth hacking, however that’s not how I would set out to define it and unfortunately, a great many marketers have mistaken “Tactical Marketing Tryouts” for B2B Growth Hacking Marketing.

What modern marketers ought to be considering is how changing their strategy might change their marketing outcomes.  Strategy is a whole level up from tactical experimentation, and here is where the concept of growth hacking can lead to some really big ideas, and / or changes in direction.

Let’s say that your strategy for marketing a B2B SaaS product aimed at Enterprise accounts is heavily based on inbound marketing utilizing a pull marketing strategy with heavy content development.

In the true spirit of growth hacking, you decided to throw out that strategy, in the hopes of creating some MVP (minimal viable product) strategies that you could roll out in a hurry to see what works and what doesn’t.

One of the 5 different strategies that you developed in the growth hacking scrum (see Agile Project Management) is centered around a hybrid mix of account based marketing, social selling and “snack-able” video content assets.  You decide to roll this out against 5 of the “named accounts” or strategic accounts you have identified and within a few weeks, this strategy seems to be outperforming the old tried and true inbound pull marketing strategy, bringing MQLs, SQLs and SALs in faster and with better quality than your previous strategy.

Congratulations. You have successfully practiced B2B Growth Hacking Marketing.

Now, let’s look at why “Tactical Marketing Tryouts” isn’t really growth hacking.

Had you not changed your strategy, you would have embarked on a journey to test various pieces of “inbound, pull marketing content” which you have considered to be “B2B growth hacking marketing.”

Imagine that you tried 20 different content types, in 5 different content formats, and used different landing pages and calls to action to attempt to improve your results through “B2B Growth Hacking Marketing.” Sure, some of the content tactics may have performed better than your original content, and you may have increased inquiries and prospects through those different content pieces, but you would have never learned that your flawed strategy was preventing you from being successful.

Top of Their Game

B2B marketers who are at the top of their game, have really always practiced a form of “growth hacking.”

Testing is critical to any successful marketing program and good B2B marketers have always known this. What is different about the theory of growth hacking is the abbreviated time period allocated for testing. Rolling out a marketing rapid prototype after rapid prototype in a small scaled section of your marketing will enable you to get a “read” on how your experimentation in marketing is performing.

Yes, you can use this process to test tactics as well as strategies, and I encourage marketers test everything. Tactics, content, calls to action, landing pages, and most importantly, marketing strategy.

B2B Growth Hacking Marketing can be done in SMB, Middle Market and Enterprise B2B marketing, as even though each discipline of B2B marketing is decidedly different, the same process for testing, and for rolling out rapid prototypes of marketing strategy can be accomplished.

I applaud those who have developed the process and idea of growth hacking. Even if the idea isn’t brand new, it still reinforces the best practice of testing, trying new things, and learning to fail good.

One of my favorite quotes on the subject is from Thomas A. Edison who said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Go out and embrace failure, as Edison did, and you may just wind up developing a B2B Marketing Growth Hack that moves your organization forward at a speed and in ways you never imagined.

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Social Selling: Marketing’s Role in Social Sales Enablement

How can marketing enable sales to best be prepared for, and succeed at social selling?  Or, in other words, what is marketing’s role in Social Selling Enablement?

 

Before answering questions regarding “social selling” I feel that it’s important to define the term.

Let’s look at how others define “social selling.”

Hubspot:
“Social selling is when salespeople use social media to interact directly with their prospects. Salespeople will provide value by answering prospect questions and offering thoughtful content until the prospect is ready to buy.”

LinkedIn:
“Social selling is leveraging your own professional brand and social network to gather insights and connections, then use that information to help you discover new opportunities, sell, and get business done.”

Defining social selling itself has become the topic of many blog articles, including this one by Jeff Zelaya of Triblio- “10 LinkedIn Influencers Define Social Selling”

On a very high level, it is my belief that marketing needs to own the customer experience.  Since social media is, and is increasingly becoming an important aspect of the customer experience, it is logical that marketing must strive to own social media.

Yet, one has to wonder is the concept of social media counter-intuitive to the concept of social selling?

Building trust with our customers is one of the, if not the highest priority of most marketing organizations.   Social media etiquette requires organizations to provide information and interactive communications that have value to our community of customers and prospective customers, without appearing to persuade or convince those customers, as in traditional marketing or advertising communications.  Therefore any attempt to “sell” within the social media universe would immediately be viewed as disingenuous or as blatant self-promotion.

Therefore, a marketer’s role in the practice of social selling would be to create a content strategy that would support the provision of important valuable information to the reader that would be relevant and compelling, and would position the organization as an authority on the subject without self-promotion of the organization.  By constructing a content strategy that enables sales to provide this valuable information, marketing would be enabling sales to engage with prospects within the social universe by taking the authoritative and helpful position to stay top of mind and in the prospects consideration set when a purchase decision is imminent.

In order for salespeople to leverage social networks to gain connections or to engage further with connections already made; salespeople must be able to engage their connections or future connections with something (content) that is relevant and compelling to foster interaction.

Based on my vision of social selling, the infrastructure of a well thought out social media program must either exist or must be built in order to support a social selling initiative.

In the case where an organization has an existing social media program, the most impactful quick hit would be to develop a strategy for sales to engage with customers and prospects within a few selected social networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter.

To do this, Marketing would provide a program, or playbook that would educate and enable sales by utilizing the content assets available through the organizations social media program, such as blog articles, studies, surveys, info-graphics, where sales can learn to offer these assets within the construct of each social property in an acceptable communication to gain awareness and interaction with the prospect or customer.

Of course, for marketing to truly enable social selling, there must be alignment between marketing and sales.  There are entire books, and entire marketing practices that are dedicated to the alignment of sales and marketing.   I don’t believe that a one or two line answer here is going to communicate the importance of aligning sales and marketing and it certainly will not enable any readers to tackle an issue of this magnitude.

I would suggest that regular weekly or monthly meetings between sales and marketing is a great place to start this conversation with the future goal of SLA’s (Service Level Agreements) developed as a result of these meetings which can help guide both sales and marketing on the path to true alignment.

Organizations must be fundamentally sound in their development of goals, objectives, strategies and tactics to implement any successful program or campaign.  On the subject of social selling, the fundamentals are essential to building a campaign that enables sales to engage with prospects and customers within social networks.

The very same tools that best-in-class organizations use to develop and manage social media are the tools needed to support a social selling campaign, such as Content Strategy, Editorial Calendars, Activation Maps, and especially for sales, a Social Selling Campaign Playbook that details the tactics used and the assets available to be used.

Social networks have a purpose, and that purpose is to allow people to socially interact and share ideas.  Social selling infringes on the “social” part of social communities, since salespeople obviously have an ulterior motive, which has nothing to do with building an information exchange for the greater good of the community and has everything to do with gaining a competitive advantage to entice prospective or current customers into purchasing by providing valuable and relevant information (content.)   Hiding or cloaking this duplicitous goal of salespeople is the greatest challenge to social selling.

Social selling can be used in Account Based Marketing (ABM).  The strategies that need to be developed for social selling in ABM are slightly different than in non-ABM, where in ABM any current event or relatable information regarding the key strategic account may be in play during the content strategy construction more so than in non-ABM content strategy.

There is great confusion within organizations about the difference between social selling, and information gathering using social network information.  Gathering and seeking information on social networks that help enable sales to sell through the insights of the intelligence is in my opinion of far greater value to both sales and marketing organizations than the practice of social selling, which is a deceitful way to endear salespeople to their prospects through disingenuous social engagement and interactions.

I certainly understand the need for marketing to enable sales to sell.

I would prefer to either enhance a robust social media program, or if need be, build a robust social media program for clients from the ground up, and then use those assets created as part of an overarching content strategy rather than build a patch-work band aid solution as an isolated social selling campaign.

Building, earning, gaining and keeping the trust of our client’s customers and prospective customers is always our goal, and if I feel that implementing social selling tactics would undermine that goal, I would recommend against it.

However, when goals, objectives, strategies, tactics are aligned with our client’s brand and brand value, we are very comfortable in developing a program that enables our client’s salespeople to sell using all channels, including social selling.

B2B Marketers always have 2 clients.   The end user client who uses the product or service sold by the company, and the company’s sales force.  By enabling sales to practice social selling, B2B marketing is fulfilling the mission of catering to the two customers that B2B marketers must accommodate.

Digital Display Advertising For Medicare Marketers

Chapter 5 of “Medicare Marketing in Our Digital World”

Digital Display is a wide term for a category that includes banner advertisements, promoted or sponsored advertisements including those on social media, native advertisements, video, rich media and sponsorships for all devices. Unlike strictly text based ads, display advertising relies on images, audio and video to engage the audience and convey the advertising message.

Revolutionizing the way digital display ads are managed.

There are many vendors whose products and services have completely transformed the management of digital display ads..  When looking at the Display Lumascape above, you may find that some of the category topics are unfamiliar.  Let’s take a closer look at what goes into implementing digital display advertising.

Agency Trading Desks and Programmatic media buying

ATDs or Agency Trading Desks manage the bidding of programmatic digital display media through a system that is customized to execute the digital display strategies of a specific client or group of clients of a specific agency.  Programmatic automates the ad buying and selling process through the use of software and technology at a speed and scale that makes it more efficient and effective. Programmatic Ad Buying (also known as RTB Real Time Buying) helps marketers take advantage of unsold or “remnant” digital inventory. When ad serving sites have unsold inventory, programmatic rates are offered at considerable discounts compared to the site’s direct rates.

And programmatic offers advertisers the ability to incorporate large amounts of data, to serve users with ads that are more likely to be relevant on psychographic, demographic, behavioral and intent levels. Accuen is Omnicom Media Group’s Agency Trading Desk within a programmatic agency, operating the industry’s first open and flexible platform for programmatic media buying for the world’s leading marketers. Accuen delivers market-leading solutions across channels, transforming data into competitive media advantage.

Dynamic Creative Optimization DCO or Dynamic Creative Optimization allows marketers to test and optimize banners or other digital display ads based on real-time feedback from multi-variate testing. Multi-variate testing tests a hypothesis in which multiple variables are modified. The goal is to determine which combination of variations performs the best out of all of the possible combinations. The data is analyzed in real-time through an algorithm and results are interpreted simultaneously to serve the right banner via real time data dependent on a searcher’s intent.

Retargeting This definition of retargeting is from www.retarger.com “Retargeting is a cookie-based technology that uses simple a Javascript code to anonymously ‘follow’ your audience all over the Web.

Here’s how it works: you place a small, unobtrusive piece of code on your website (this code is sometimes referred to as a pixel). The code, or pixel, is inconspicuous to your site visitors and won’t affect your site’s performance. Every time a new visitor comes to your site, the code drops an anonymous browser cookie. Later, when your cookied visitors browse the Web, the cookie will let your retargeting provider know when to serve ads, ensuring that your ads are served to only to people who have previously visited your site.

Retargeting is so effective because it focuses your advertising spend on people who are already familiar with your brand and have recently demonstrated interest. That’s why most marketers who use it see a higher ROI than from most other digital channels.”

Filling out the eye chart of the Digital Display Lumascape are the following: DSP is an acronym for Demand Side Platform which is software used to purchase advertising with a platform that allows buyers/advertisers to buy the inventory from various ad exchanges and data exchange accounts through one interface which is RTB or Real Time Bidding.  A Supply-side or Sell-side Platform (SSP) is a technology platform which enables the publishers to manage their ad impression inventory and maximize revenue from digital media

Exchanges are ad exchanges, which is a “market” for ad buying and placement, as are Ad Networks which come in various iterations and flavors such as Vertical/Custom, Targeted Networks/AMPS (Audience Management Platforms which is a vendor that offers both DSP and DMP, Data Management Platform), Performance enhancing software, Mobile specific platforms, ad servers and then a multitude of vendors that work to supply measurement and analytics, verification and privacy, retargeting, testing and optimization and media management systems and operational systems.

Medicare marketers will usually rely on their agency partners to manage these aspects of their programs, as the technical nature and knowledge needed to staff marketing operations to facilitate all that is associated with best practice digital display marketing and advertising prohibits Medicare marketing organizations from building their own in-house digital display marketing teams.

According to EMarketer: “In 2016, digital display ad spending will eclipse search ad spending in the US for the first time. Combined, the categories of video, sponsorships, rich media and “banners and other” will account for the largest share of digital ad spending: 47.9%, worth $32.17 billion.”

This monumental shift from search to display is not reflected in the current usage that I’ve observed by Medicare marketing organizations. Some organizations are “getting their toes wet” in the digital display water, and some haven’t provided themselves with adequate dedicated digital display budget to be effective.  Others have completely stayed away from digital display putting all their eggs in the search basket for digital advertising investment.

What does the term “Programmatic” mean as it relates to Display Advertising?

By definition, Programmatic ad buying refers to the use of software to purchase digital advertising, as opposed to contracting inventory from a specific site over a specific time period which has enabled marketers using Programmatic ad buying to buy digital ads more efficiently and effectively.

According to eMarketer, U.S. programmatic digital display ad spending grew 137.1% to $10 Billion in 2014, which represents 45% of the U.S. digital display ad market.  And a recent article in Advertising Age noted that “Programmatic buying is on track to make up $14.88 billion of the approximately $58.6 billion digital advertising pie this year, a nearly $5 billion leap from 2014, when it accounted for $9.9 billion.”

Why does it matter to Medicare marketers?

Programmatic Ad Buying provides marketers with the ability to grow, scale, gain media efficiency, enjoy wide targeting capabilities and deliver ads with cross platform (device) accessibility.

“A demand-side platform (DSP) is a system that allows buyers of digital advertising inventory to manage multiple ad exchange and data exchange accounts through one interface” states Wikipedia, and this access to thousands of sites on which we can serve ad impressions provides us with the ability to be extremely efficient, effective while increasing our digital display targeting capabilities with virtually limitless scalability.

Programmatic Ad Buying (also known as RTB Real Time Buying) is an automated way to take advantage of unsold or “remnant” digital inventory. When ad serving sites have unsold inventory, programmatic rates are offered at considerable discounts compared to the site’s direct rates.

As with search, digital display ads bought through programmatic means, can be targeted nearly every which way from Sunday.

  • Retargeting
  • Look-a-Like Targeting
  • Behavioral or Psychographic Targeting
  • Contextual Targeting
  • Demographic Targeting
  • Brand Keywords
  • Targeted Non-Brand Keywords
  • Conquesting
  • Targeted Ad Copy
  • Targeted Devices
  • Behavioral Targeting
  • Targeted Day-Parting
  • Retargeting (Remarketing)
  • Geo Targeting
  • Geo Fencing
  • Platform (Device)

Banners Banners are the most common form of digital display advertising and come in a variety of flavors and sizes.  The Marketing Tech Blog provides this comprehensive listing of popular banner sizes:

Top Performing Ad Sizes on Google

  • Leaderboard – 728 pixels wide by 90 pixels tall
  • Half-Page – 300 pixels wide by 600 pixels tall
  • Inline Rectangle – 300 pixels wide by 250 pixels tall
  • Large Rectangle – 336 pixels wide by 280 pixels tall
  • Large Mobile Banner – 320 pixels wide by 100 pixels tall

 

Other Supported Ad Sizes on Google

  • Mobile Leaderboard – 320 pixels wide by 50 pixels tall
  • Banner – 468 pixels wide by 60 pixels tall
  • Half Banner – 234 pixels wide by 60 pixels tall
  • Skyscraper – 120 pixels wide by 600 pixels tall
  • Vertical Banner – 120 pixels wide by 240 pixels tall
  • Wide Skyscraper – 160 pixels wide by 600 pixels tall
  • Portrait – 300 pixels wide by 1050 pixels tall
  • Large Leaderboard – 970 pixels wide by 90 pixels tall
  • Billboard – 970 pixels wide by 250 pixels tall
  • Square – 250 pixels wide by 250 pixels tall
  • Small Square – 200 pixels wide by 200 pixels tall
  • Small Rectangle – 180 pixels wide by 150 pixels tall
  • Button – 125 pixels wide by 125 pixels tall

See the entire list of banner sizes from The Marketing Tech Blog here.

Rich Media Digital Display As Google so aptly defines it “Rich media is a digital advertising term for an ad that includes advanced features like video, audio, or other elements that encourage viewers to interact and engage with the content.”  While text ads sell with words, and display ads sell with pictures, rich media ads offer more ways to involve an audience with an ad. The ad can expand, float, etc. You can access aggregated metrics on your audience’s behavior, including number of expansions, multiple exits, and video completions to get granular data on the success of your campaign. If you have a simple objective to generate clicks or a more ambitious goal to create brand awareness, rich media is the format to go with.

There are various types of Rich Media digital display ads available to Medicare marketers and you will find wonderful examples of these different types at Google’s Rich Media Gallery here.

  • Animated Ads are now mostly implemented in animated gifs or HTML5, as Flash is nearing extinction as Google has announced that “from January 2, 2017 ads in the Flash format will not run on across Google Display Network and DoubleClick.”
  • Expanding Ads that begin as banner size can expand to large sizes and may include a video display.
  • Sidebar Ads are displayed usually in the columns to the left or right of the content.
  • Mouse over Ads either pop up or expand when the user mouses over words or the entire ad.
  • Background Ads replace the background image and provide a large clickable area for users to hit as the background of the web page.
  • Click-Through Ads bring the user to a new page (usually a landing page) where the user will be served a video or an additional ad, then they will need to click through to view the content.
  • Reveal Ads block the content on the web page and when the viewer has viewed the ad or video, the content.
  • Video Ads autoplay with or without sound on a page.
  • Slide-In Ads slide in from the left, right, top or bottom.
  • Exit-Intent Ads are pop-up ads activated by mouse-movement predictions to determine when a person has the intent to leave a page. 
  • Pop-Up Ads can be designed to deploy as soon as you arrive at, or attempt to leave a web page.

Medicare Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Every year Luma Partners, a unique investment banking firm that lives in the digital media world, releases several different “Lumascapes” . These provide an infographic look at the landscape for a given digital area.  There is a Lumascape for Digital Display Advertising, another for Digital Search Advertising, and for mobile and for video.

As most Medicare marketers are in the nascent stages of both search and display, let’s take a look at the Lumascapes for each beginning with search.

Search involves more than just Google AdWords as you can see from this very busy infographic. It begins with the agencies at the upper-left-hand corner (Disclaimer: KERN HEALTH is an Omnicom Group Agency) and progresses to those agencies that specialize in search such as KERN HEALTH’s media partner, Converge Direct.

In between you’ll see the inclusion of SEM (Search Engine Marketing) tools such as Google AdWords, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tools like MOZ, analytics including both search and web including Google Analytics to all of the various search engines such as Google, Bing & Yahoo, and search retargeting, verification and search networks.

Skipping the elementary basics of SEM (Search Engine Marketing) which marketers are generally familiar with, let’s take a deeper dive into what different SEM variations are available to Medicare marketers. Fundamental Keyword Selection strategy will not be covered here, which is of itself the subject of literally libraries of books.

Medicare marketers are familiar with and have experience and historic benchmarks to reference regarding their selection of keyword search terms. Basic search advertising is usually done on the largest platform, which is Google AdWords. Google has an excellent educational section on the AdWords site which can be found here.

The following technologically driven tactics are usually used together, and not as isolated tactics, as a campaign can include many of these tactics integrated to achieve the strategic vision.

SEO and SEM (Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing)

Best practice digital marketers don’t view SEO and SEM as an either/or asset; since experienced and successful digital marketers know they must have strategies for both SEO and SEM in place to achieve success.  Ensuring that the website and landing pages are search engine friendly (can easily be crawled and indexed by search engines) is essential to the success of any SEM program. Having a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy supported by a SEO driven content strategy lifts the effectiveness of both SEO and SEM short term and long term.

SEO continues to be a “cat and mouse” game, as Google changes algorithms, SEO experts change tactics to exploit the new algorithm. If you’d like to learn more about SEO, there are some excellent books on Amazon that cover the subject in detail.

Search Engine MarketingToday, there are a variety of targeting tactics available to the modern Search Engine Marketer beyond demographics. Savvy SEM strategists must constantly keep themselves current with new technological changes to fully leverage the latest best practice tactics.

The tactics listed here are usually used together, not just individually, as a campaign can integrate many of them to achieve the strategic vision.

As Medicare marketers have just begun to scratch the surface on what targeting tactics are available, here are today’s modern SEM targeting tactics.

 

Search Engine Marketing Targeting Tactics For Medicare marketers

Brand Keywords Campaigns can be run for both Branded and non-branded search terms, depending on campaign emphasis. Brand keywords are obviously keywords that include the brand. People searching for brands have high intent on finding the brand that they’re searching for and therefore provide marketers with a high or good ROAS (Return on Ad Spend.) Many organizations have branded their products so that they are able to make people aware of their brand right when they’re searching.

Targeted Non-Brand Keywords Conversely to Brand Keyword searches, Targeted Non-Brand Keyword are designed for searchers with less intent than brand searchers, and generally provide a lower or lesser ROAS. Many organizations measure Branded and Non-Branded keyword searches separately since the level of intent for each of these searches is decidedly different.

Conquesting Conquesting is generally considered an aggressive marketing strategy by a company targeting a competitor’s brand name or product names or marketing slogans. Perhaps the most famous occurrence of conquesting came during the 2011 Super Bowl, when Volkswagen ran the famous Darth Vader commercial. In that spot, a kid dressed as Darth Vader, starts his Dad’s VW with what he believed was the power of the Force. Turns out it was really Dad with a remote start button. Chevrolet saw the commercial, and according to this USA Today article: “A team of Chevrolet marketers went into action, paying for links to Chevy’s Super Bowl ads to appear as a top result when people Googled phrases such as “Darth Vader.” As a result, Chevrolet’s ads got 55 million views online in the four days following the Super Bowl — far above expectations.”

Targeted Ad Copy As you might imagine, targeting keywords within an ad or landing page copy is another tactic marketers use to return relevant searches to those seeking a product or service rather than a brand. For Medicare marketers phrases such as “Part D Prescription Drug Plan” or “Medicare Advantage HMO” are common phrases used within the ad copy and can be used as keywords for targeted ad copy.

Targeted Devices

Medicare marketers can leverage device targeting to reach their best prospective customers on any device.  Controlling when, where and on what device your ads appear enables flexible targeting options, as you can combine device targeting with other attributes such as location, day, time, and demographics. And, you can tailor a specific mobile campaign to only target smart phones of one or more manufacturers. By testing device targeting, marketers are able to understand which devices their best performing perspective customers are using and can increase ROAS significantly by targeting those specific devices combined with other top performing attributes. This is especially critical for Medicare marketers as leading edge boomers age in to eligibility.

Contextual CPC (Cost Per Click)

Where and when marketer’s digital advertisements are placed is as critical, or more critical than the message, the offer or the creative. Imagine a brilliant ad with a fabulous offer pasted onto a billboard in an isolated desert town with literally no traffic driving by.  The outdoor board will not be effective. The same is true for digital advertising, including search.  Medicare search engine marketing must be planned by thoroughly understand the digital media consumption behavior and habits of the Medicare audience. Vendors offer context-based algorithm-based placement of searches to ensure that the ad being placed appears in front of an interested audience who is receptive to the offer.

Using contextual CPC also enables Search Engine Retargeting which is a newer technology that dynamically inserts the searcher’s own keyword queries into your ad copy as the user continues to browse other sites and all this activity is trackable and attributable through the vendor’s analytics reports. There are vendors that allow for cost-per-click contextual traffic specifically targeted to the health vertical. They each have a collection of sites focused on Insurance.  Some of the benefits of Contextual CPC include the allowance for CPC traffic similar to Search, but at a lower cost since users only see an ad if they meet the selected criteria such as demographic, geographic, or other selectable attributes. Read more about contextual targeting for Google AdWords here.

There are several vendors that allow for Cost Per Click Contextual traffic specifically targeted to a collection of sites focused on Medicare Insurance

Targeted Day-parting

DayPart targeting allows Medicare marketers to reach the audience by the time and day of the week when ads are most likely to be seen based on the media consumption and behavior patterns of the audience.  Dialing in the best times of day that the Medicare audience is most likely to be searching for search terms enables marketers to increase ROAS by maximizing the allocated budget for the most impact. Here is another opportunity to test and learn what days and what times of day your prospective audience is most likely going to be searching for Medicare information or assistance so that you can optimize your spend and maximize results. And while many Medicare marketers are using Google AdWords, some may be unaware that targeted day-parting is an option. Learn more about Google AdWords custom scheduling here.

RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads)

According to Google, Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) “is a feature that lets you customize your search ads campaign for people who have previously visited your site, and tailor your bids and ads to these visitors when they’re searching on Google.” Why might Medicare marketers be interested in this capability? Well, in order to maximize the effectiveness of a smaller digital search budget, having your search engine marketing only return PPC ads to people who have already shown an interest by visiting your site is an excellent way to squeeze every working dollar out of your digital budget. When someone visits your Medicare site, they are most likely interested in your Medicare offerings.  When that person continues to search for other Medicare plans, your search engine marketing ad comes up first- and there is a better likelihood that the searcher may be swayed into revisiting your site and reconsidering your offer.

Geo Targeting

“Geo Targeting” and “Geo Fencing” are terms that are often misunderstood and misused by marketers, so let’s address the difference while defining them. Geo Targeting is the targeting of prospective members within a specified geographical territory such as a DMA that meet other targeting criteria such as demographic or psychographic selected attributes. For Medicare marketers Geo Targeting is an important aspect of every SEM campaign, including testing different tactics including messaging, formats, keywords and more to different geographical locations.  Bidding for search terms within broad geographic locations such as zip codes, cities, counties or states is going to be much for efficient and effective driving higher ROAS.

Geo Fencing

Geo Fencing involves drawing a virtual DMA using either a device’s GPS or a home or business’ IP address as the centralized origination point and targets prospects within the radius selected from those origination points. Utilizing Geo Fencing will enable you to show ads to EVERYONE within a selected area, usually a much tighter location radius than can be used with Geo Targeting. Medicare marketers can use this capability to target areas with high concentrations of boomers or seniors such as large retirement communities to gain efficiency, drive down investments and increase response. Geo Fencing does not provide marketers with the ability to serve up push notifications on apps to those within the Geo Fence radius, although many marketers mistakenly believe that it does.

Search Engine Marketing for Medicare Marketers Knowing what tools are in the toolbox and having expert knowledge of those tools is essential for any master carpenter. Even the novice must survey the tool box before attempting to build a project, and the same is true for Medicare marketing strategists.

There are 10 stages in the modern buyer’s journey which are Distraction, Recognize Need, Search For Solutions, Seek Vendor Solutions, Evaluate Solutions, Justify Solutions, Social Research, Cost Analysis, Purchase, Evaluation of Decision.

While the journey stages of the AEP “Switcher” and the “Age-In” prospects are similar they may have very different needs and concerns when shopping for Medicare. The final messaging for each segment must speak to each audience’s specific needs and wants.

No matter the audience, something is likely to distract or interrupt a Medicare shopper, which acts as a catalyst to consider either their current Medicare coverage (Switcher) or that they are nearing the age where they will have to face a choice regarding Medicare by the time they turn 65 (Age-In). Maybe it was something they heard from a friend or family member, or perhaps they saw a commercial for Medicare on television or online.

Once they have recognized that they have a need (2), both audiences are likely to search for solutions (3) and begin to look for specific Vendor solutions (4).

They will evaluate those solutions (5) and perhaps will need to justify those solutions to their spouse, children or friends (6) and they, or their support group will conduct social research (7) during each stage of their journey.

How much does it cost per month, or what is the total cost of the policy including deductibles? These questions are answered within the Cost Analysis (8) leg of the journey, and the decision to make a purchase (9) is made, and then the important evaluation of the decision (10) occurs, which is increasingly more important as many post their evaluation online for others to see.

Understanding and mapping the Medicare buyer’s journey will enable organizations to determine which tactics are best for early stage, middle stage and late stage funnel searchers.  Testing different messaging, positioning and tactical execution, along with landing page versions is best practice, and will allow your marketing to evolve into an optimized program providing great ROAS.

Throughout the Summer of ’16, various types of content will be produced to tell you the story of “Medicare Marketing in Our Digital World.

The purpose of this work is to provide a 30,000 foot view for Medicare marketing CMO’s and other Medicare marketing leaders.

 

50 Questions To Ask Before Developing A Digital Medicare Marketing Strategy

Medicare Marketing in Our Digital World Chapter 3

Digital Strategy 101- A Prerequisite to Building a Digital Strategy

What is a digital strategy?

A digital strategy is the process of identifying, articulating and executing on digital opportunities that will increase your organization’s competitive advantage.

For our purpose and put more simply: “A digital strategy is a marketing strategy in our world which happens to be increasingly digital.”

Building a digital strategy will obviously require knowledge of the digital landscape along with the knowledge that any Medicare marketing strategist would need to develop any marketing strategy.

Part of the confusion surrounding digital strategy is the definition of term digital itself.  For organizations a digital strategy can be all things digital, from the digitization of paper records to the implementation of a digital back-end member portal complete with Electronic Health Records (EHRs).   From the development and deployment of mobile digital applications to the management of the organization’s social media properties to the decision to purchase and implement digital systems all fall under the broad “digital” umbrella.

Specifically for this purpose which is Medicare marketing, we will define digital as it pertains to marketing, in areas such as:

  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Digital Display Advertising
  • Social Media Advertising
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Website and Landing Page Development
  • Email
  • Mobile Applications
  • Mobile Messaging

Each one of the above topics have been and will continue to be the entire subject of marketing books. It is the intention of this work to provide a brief, consolidated overview of the digital advertising tools which are available, in order to enlighten Medicare marketers as to what needs to go into developing and creating a digital marketing strategy.

Before ANY marketing strategy can be developed or created, questions must be asked and answered. Often times in order to provide answers, research must be conducted, assessed and studied to understand the insights gained from the research.

Let’s begin with:

50 Questions To Ask Before Developing A Digital Medicare Marketing Strategy

The Marketplace

  1. What is the marketplace opportunity?
  2. What is the market share of our top 3 competitors?
  3. What is our market share?
  4. Where within our DMA (Designated Market Area) are the best opportunities for growth?


The Audience

  1. How many people =>65 years old are in-market within the DMA now?
  2. How many people are 64 years old this year that will be aging into Medicare within the DMA this year, and next year?
  3. Have we developed target audience progressive personas?
  4. Have we developed segmentation studies, informing segmentation through digital analytics and insights?
  5. What are the digital media consumption behaviors and habits of our target audience?
  6. What is the buyer’s journey for >63<65 year olds? (Age-In)
  7. What is the buyer’s journey for =>65 year olds with a propensity to switch (AEP?)
  8. What is the buyer’s journey for =>65 year olds able to enroll year-round in plans enjoying a CMS 5 star rating?
  9. What is our audience thinking, feeling, experiencing, expecting and considering at each stage of the modern buyer’s 10-stage journey?

 

Your Organization’s Current State of Digital

  1. Specifically regarding each of the digital channels and capabilities, what are the organization’s
  • Strengths?
  • Weaknesses?
  • Opportunities?
  • Threats?

 

Digital Goals

  1. What are the growth goals or how many new incremental members are being sought to add through digital channels?
  2. What digital goals can be developed to better engage with members?
  3. What is the digital transformation vision for the organization?
  4. How can better service be provided to members through digital means?
  5. How can operations be more effective and efficient through digital means?
  6. What is the capacity for integrating the different parts of a digital strategy?
  7. What is the plan to integrate digital advertising with other advertising, marketing and event-driven efforts?
  8. What defining Key Performance Indicators and other metrics will digital programs and progress be measured by?
  9. What is the capacity to perform analytical review of efforts to gain insight into how digital efforts can be optimized?
  10. What is the plan for agility in refining the digital strategy at regular intervals?
  11. What are the estimates for the future digital investment roadmap?

 

Brand, Positioning and Messaging

  1. How to best communicate the core features and values of the brand?
  2. How to add value to the brand through digital means?
  3. How to differentiate from competitors and communicate this through digital means?
  4. What is the position and message of key competitors?
  5. What is the “white space” within the industry messaging that can be leveraged, controlled and owned by the organization?
  6. What is the brand messaging and positioning for products and people?

 

Digital Content Strategy, Digital Content Audit and Digital Content Creation

  1. What is digital content strategy?
  2. Is our content strategy mapped to the buyer’s journey for each segment of our audience?
  3. What is the organization’s owned media strategy?
  4. What is our earned media strategy?
  5. What’s the best way to promote, advertise, leverage and exploit our owned and earned media with digital paid media through various targeting options?
  6. Can the digital e-communications strategy be streamlined and refined?
  7. Can implementation of personalized messaging through digital means to our audience be realized?
  8. Are there plans to create a content hub?
  9. Have digital assets been audited? And if so, when?
  10. What’s the best way to perform a gap analysis of content?
  11. How do we create a digital editorial calendar?

 

Digital CRM

  1. How can we best engage with our members digitally?
  2. How to determine the current level of online member engagement?
  3. What goals can be set to improve digital engagement?
  4. What KPIs can be put in place to measure digital engagement?
  5. What are the digital loyalty drivers that exist now, and what drivers do we need to have?
  6. What are the digital loyalty barriers that need to be overcome, and how to overcome them?
  7. How can member advocacy be improved through digital means?
  8. What is our e-CRM approach and method for data profiling?

There are other important questions that need to be asked and answered in order to craft a digital marketing strategy, many of which will be posed in the following chapters that specifically discuss digital tactics.

Throughout the Summer of ’16, various types of content will be produced to tell you the story of “Medicare Marketing in Our Digital World.

The purpose of this work is to provide a 30,000 foot view for Medicare marketing CMO’s and other Medicare marketing leaders.

In the next installment I will discuss SEM (Search Engine Marketing) including tactics that work for Medicare eligibles.

Did you miss Chapter 1 of Medicare Marketing in Our Digital World? Read it here.

Chapter 2, A Digital Beginning can be found here.

Chapter 4, Medicare Search Engine Marketing can be seen here.

Chapter 5, Digital Display Advertising For Medicare Marketers is right here.

Chapter 6, Video Advertising for Medicare Marketers can be found here.

Chapter 7, Native Advertising Vs. Content Marketing for Medicare Marketers is here.

A Digital Beginning: Medicare Marketing in Our Digital World (Chapter 2)

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Chapter 2
A Digital Beginning

waynedyer

The late Dr. Wayne Dwyer said “Go for it now.  The future is promised to no one.”  This is sound advice for life and for ending the procrastination about when your Medicare marketing organization should begin to create a digital strategy.  “Go for it now.”

Let’s address the elephant in the room.  Every Medicare marketer has numbers to make.  It is no secret that direct mail is the primary workhorse of Medicare Marketing, providing the necessary leads for inside sales, brokers and agents and driving self-serve transactional online sales.   Jeopardizing an organization’s ability to meet or exceed the sales goals by moving budget out of direct mail and into digital is not a viable option nor is slicing a digital budget out of DRTV, Print, Events or other high performing channels.

Mobile is No Longer Considered A Channel
To be clear, more than ½ of all digital advertising occurs on mobile devices.  The remainder of this book will incorporate strategies that are as much mobile as they are desktop.   For modern marketers, there is no longer a separate category for mobile, and for Medicare marketers, the reality that our audience is now predominantly mobile must be acknowledged and prepared for.  All of the strategies and tactics contained within are applicable to mobile and I strongly encourage the consideration of cross platform mobile digital advertising, for search, display, video and through mobile specific apps (applications.) Don’t expect to see a “Mobile Marketing” section- everything here is for mobile and desktop.

A Digital Marketing Strategy is More Than A Digital Media Strategy
Who is responsible to create and execute the digital strategy?   Is it the marketing department of the Medicare organization?   Perhaps it’s the marketing agency that works with the Medicare organization, or could it be the Media agency who is responsible?  I’ve seen it all 3 ways.   Due to budget limitations smaller Medicare organizations task their own marketing department to do this, while most of the time it is the marketing agency that creates the strategy, while the media agency is generally responsible for executing the strategy, and implementing the ad spend as directed.

Best practice calls for the Medicare organization’s marketing agency to create the strategy.   After all, the marketing agency is orchestrating all channels, and needs to assume the role of the lead agency directing all marketing endeavors of the organization including media.  The lead agency will best understand the brand, the brand values, and chances are they either helped to write the positioning and messaging of both the brand and the products.

Every best-practice lead agency will depend on input from the media agency and the marketing department of the Medicare organization to develop the best possible strategy and implementation roadmap.

The Digital Strategy and Digital Budget Conundrum
The obvious conclusion is that there can’t be a digital strategy without a DEDICATED digital budget and conversely, how can a digital budget be estimated without a digital strategy?

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Let’s pull back from the philosophical to the practical for a moment.  Those who are in a position where they are developing strategy are usually aware of the budget availability and limitations of the organization.   The assumption is that you’ll know if your digital budget is more likely to be a bread basket or a bread truck or a bread factory or a national chain of bread factories with fleets of bread trucks.

There is a great likelihood that your Medicare marketing organization has forayed into the digital marketing game in some way by now, which means that your starting point isn’t at zero, which is a good thing.  Perhaps your organization has experimented with search, and maybe with some display or even with retargeting; and if so, you have some lessons learned, some benchmarks to reference and have been able to convince those holding the purse strings that digital experimentation must take place.

Based on what your organization has tolerated for digital marketing experimentation and what you estimate to be an acceptable budget range for digital marketing is a good starting place for determining a budget range for digital.  When building the actual strategy, a more detailed view of what you will need to spend based on benchmarks and educated estimates will allow honing of the budget to a more realistic number.

Some mistakenly view digital marketing as advertising on digital media channels.   While it is true that digital channels are utilized to advertise, creating a digital strategy is usually tasked to marketing agencies that develop strategy and either have a media department or utilize a media agency to place the media.   Building a digital strategy requires knowledge of the market, the target, direct response marketing, brand marketing, digital advertising, social media marketing and advertising and marketing strategy.

Creating a digital strategy framed within a business case which proves a positive ROI on an estimated budget that can be used to obtain funding can be challenging.

Throughout the Summer of ’16, various types of content will be produced to tell you the story of “Medicare Marketing in Our Digital World.

The purpose of this work is to provide a 30,000 foot view for Medicare marketing CMO’s and other Medicare marketing leaders.

In the next installment I discuss 50 important questions that must be asked and answered prior to developing a Digital Medicare Marketing Strategy.

Medicare Marketing in Our Digital World

Chapter 1:

Why are Medicare Marketers struggling to develop a Digital Marketing Strategy?

Have you recently been to a music concert where more than half of the audience is watching it through the camera screen of their smart phone?  It’s amazing how many people are holding their phones high above their heads in order to capture a personal video memory of the concert rather than just enjoying the moment.

Have you noticed that increasingly more and more people in public places have their heads down laser focused on their smart phones?

Just recently, Augsburg, a German city was the first municipality to install traffic signalsin the sidewalk so that smart phone-distracted pedestrians would see them after a 15 year old girl there was killed by a tram when according to police reports she was distracted by her smart phone while she crossed the tracks.

People are tethered to charging stations at airports so they will have digital access throughout their trip, even at 30,000 feet with on-board pay-to-play Wi-Fi.

Some have identified a psychological state known as “Nomophobia” which according toWikipedia is the fear of being out of mobile phone contact, as Nomophobia is an abbreviation for “no-mobile-phone-phobia.”   In Psychology Today, an article that discusses “Smartphone Addiction” points to symptoms such as “Feeling anxious whenever you do not have your smartphone in your physical possession, constantly checking the phone for new texts with the compulsion to respond instantaneously, phantom cellphone vibration symptoms, not listening to people in front of your while checking your Facebook page” and more.

“For the first time ever, time spent inside mobile applications by the average US consumer has exceeded that of TV” noted in Flurry in a report published last month that goes on to say “the average US consumer is spending 198 minutes per day inside apps compared to 168 minutes on TV.”

Digital has become woven into everyday life, and those marketers who are ignoring it or pretending that it isn’t, should check how long their heads have been buried in the sand, because they are in danger of suffocating their careers.

And Digital is not only phones.  Digital is tablets, PC’s, planes, trains and automobiles. The IoT (Internet of Things) is all things connected, and according to Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) some 50 billion things will be connected by 2020.

Digital has expanded into home appliances, connected homes, connected cars, and more importantly, connected health.

We are indeed living in a Digital World. 

People are increasing their time spent with newer and emerging touch-points which are predominantly digital.

According to a recent 2015 Forrester report: “US online adults now report that they spend more time online than watching off line TV (20 and 11 hours, respectively).”  Stop for a moment and think of how that statement should impact your Medicare marketing strategy, however most Medicare marketing organizations haven’t realized that the shift from television to digital has already occurred.

Why then, are Medicare Marketers struggling to develop a Digital Marketing Strategy?

“Health Insurers Fall Flat with Consumer Marketing” was the topic of another Forrester report, which uncovered the fact that Health Insurance marketers are laggards in consumer marketing.  “John Bowen of Acxiom said that insurers’ biggest barrier is they don’t have the efficient best practices or similar skills in place as B2C marketing veterans have.”  The insight provided by this report included that “plan providers need to mimic other industries in similar positions (such as auto) and focus on driving an ongoing relationship through relationship marketing strategies that generate loyalty.”

And maybe it’s because up until now, some Medicare marketing organizations have viewed Digital as an additional channel, when it really isn’t.  Digital is a way of life.  Digital considerations must be made for every marketing strategy and tactic, even if the origination tactic is offline, such as television.

The phrase “Omnichannel” has reverberated throughout the hallways of every marketing organization for the past few years, and now, Omnichannel has become the hot buzz phrase for every channel of marketing, which most translate into digital channels, since no one ever mentioned “Omnichannel” until we were well into the digital age.

Up until now, those brave Medicare marketers who dared to peel some budget away from the traditional work horse channel of direct mail to experiment with digital have done so in very limited ways.

For most Medicare marketers, digital only means search and display.  For an adventurous few, digital may include retargeting or remarketing.

And some Medicare marketers are unaware of digital tactics such as programmatic, content marketing, native content marketing, native advertising, direct site alignment, social advertising and marketing automation.

Even for basic SEM (Search Engine Marketing) there are many new cutting edge tactics that marketers from other industries are capitalizing on, such as conquesting, targeted ad copy, targeted non-brand keywords, targeted devices, contextual CPC (Cost Per Click) and targeted day-parting, most of which Medicare marketers aren’t considering.

Considering that the leading-edge Boomers are turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 per day in the United States which will continue until the year 2030, and that according to eMarketer, by 2018 there will be 10 million more 65+ year olds using the internet than in 2014, Medicare marketers must take off the blinders to see that the digital marketing handwriting is on the wall.

There is a great opportunity for Medicare marketers to become great digital marketers for their audience which is becoming increasingly digital as time quickly passes.   And it’s only a matter of time before the same digital consumer expectations that have impacted nearly every other industry will heavily impact the way that Medicare marketing is practiced.

At KERN HEALTH, we have been working on an expanded whitepaper of this subject: “Medicare Marketing In Our Digital World” which will be available this summer.  Please watch for it, and please stay tuned here on LinkedIn for more in this series.

Read the next installment now:

Medicare Marketing in Our Digital World: Chapter 2: A Digital Beginning